Healthy teeth are important, yet millions of people are reluctant to get the dental care they need, citing fear of the cost as the number one reason. Insurance can be of huge benefit, but for those not covered, the out-of-pocket cost of dentist visits can seem overwhelming. Choosing to live with pain can seem cheaper in the short term, but the longer a problem goes untreated, the more difficult—and costly—it will be to deal with down the line.
Many procedures are covered by insurance, such as fillings and extractions. Fillings are required when a cavity is present in a tooth, usually as a result of decay (also known as dental caries). The average out-of-pocket cost to fill one area is anywhere between $100 and $300, and some teeth may actually have multiple areas that need filling. An extraction is performed most regularly on irregularly-formed or -positioned wisdom teeth, but can also be necessary with broken or extremely loose teeth. Without insurance, this procedure can cost between $100 and $200 per tooth. Surgical extraction, where the tooth is not yet exposed (as with impacted wisdom teeth) can cost between $200 and $400 per tooth.
Cosmetic procedures, such as chemical whitening or porcelain veneers, are not often covered by insurance plans. People in certain visible professions (television anchors, models, politicians, etc.) opt to undergo whitening as a professional enhancement, since so much of their job depends on a winning smile. Typical bleaching can cost an average of $300 per visit, while veneers and crowns can range from $700 to $1,200, depending on the extent of the procedure.
By far, the most inexpensive and effective treatment for most dental problems is prevention. Regular checkups and consistent at-home care can prevent tooth decay, prevent gum disease, and keep your teeth looking white and bright. For a checkup, a typical dentist visit costs around $30 to $50. Spread out over six months (the recommended time between checkups) that comes to $5-$7 per month, for adult or toddler dentist visits. And even the most basic insurance plans can bring the cost of dentist visits down to zero, since the insurance companies are anxious for you to remain healthy as well.
The cost of addressing long-standing conditions is far greater than the cost of dealing with them at the first sign of a problem. Taking great care of your teeth and keeping up with regular cleanings and checkups are the best ways to keep the cost of dentist visits minimal and manageable.